New revelations about the alleged dealings between the son of Guatemala's vice president and an alleged drug lord further undermine President Jimmy Morales' anti-corruption credentials.
Guatemalan magazine ContraPoder has obtained further details about accusations that Jafeth Ernesto Cabrera Cortéz, son of Vice President Jafeth Ernesto Cabrera Franco, received $500,000 in a deal with Marlon Francesco Monroy Meoño, alias "El Fantasma" (The Ghost), who is currently in prison awaiting extradition to the United States to face drug trafficking charges.
According to ContraPoder's anonymous sources, who are involved in the investigation, Monroy has testified that Cabrera sought a meeting with him after Morales and Cabrera qualified for the second round of voting in the 2015 presidential election.
Monroy told investigators that Cabrera made contact through a jeweler that provided both the politician's son and the alleged drug lord with luxury watches.
The pair then held a meeting at which Cabrera asked for $1 million and an armored Land Cruiser for the election campaign, the alleged narco said. In return, Monroy asked to name the people who would head anti-narcotics operations in the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Defense and the National Police.
According to Monroy, Cabrera responded that the cabinet positions had already been filled but that his request would stay pending. Days later, the jeweler who connected the pair met Cabrera accompanied by two bodyguards and a case stuffed with $500,000.
A presidential spokesperson responded to the allegations by highlighting the Morales government's efforts to tackle drug trafficking -- including the arrest of Monroy -- and said the testimony was an attempt to discredit the government.
InSight Crime Analysis
Morales was elected in the wake of a series of sweeping corruption scandals that landed previous President Otto Pérez Molina and his Vice President Roxana Baldetti in prison. Running as a political outsider with the slogan of "Not Corrupt, Not a Thief," he promised to usher in an era of cleaner politics for a disillusioned electorate weary of its corrupt political class.
However, Monroy's allegations add to a weight of accusations against the Morales administration, including that the president's brother and son were involved in corrupt dealings with state entities.
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While all of these accusations remain unproven, even their existence demonstrates that while Guatemala may have ridden itself of one cabal of corrupt politicians, cleaning up a political system that has long been characterized by its corruption and mafia connections will be a long process that requires sustained and persistent investigations and prosecutions.